He was a rough and tumble bull-rider – a tall lanky guy who followed the rodeo. With a swagger to complement his Wrangler’s and spurs, there wasn’t a man around who enjoyed the thrill more.
“I was a cowboy,” Micah Smith reminisces about his rowdy youth in West Richland and south of Kennewick. “That’s a domestic way of saying I was wild.”
But God was about to rein-in the direction of the then 23-year old and move him to a new path — one that would make a difference around the world.
“I was working out at Hanford and this guy would tell me about Jesus,” Micah recalls of his time as a pipefitter on the nuclear reservation. “I’d be rude, ‘That works for you, but I’m not interested.’ But I could see he was different, he had light.”
Micah remembers how he began studying other religions, even positive thinking, but still felt an emptiness. Then on a late Saturday night in 1979, he had what he describes as a “Road to Damascus” experience.
“I was alone in the living room listening to the song Amazing Grace on the radio,” Micah says about the moment he verbally challenged God’s existence. “And the spirit of God came into the living room – an overwhelming love. And not only a love, but all this feeling of weight and burdens fell away.”
Rushing into the bedroom to tell his sleeping wife, Nancy thought he’d been drinking. But that night it was a radical transformation, one that didn’t go unnoticed by her or his co-workers.
“I went into work Monday and guys said, ‘You look younger, you look different,’” Micah says.
And what a change! The former cowboy became a preacher and church pastor, teaching the very message he had once rejected.
But God had even more in mind for this man’s life-purpose.
In 2002, Micah founded Global Gateway Network, a ministry he and wife Nancy share that “has a passion for helping the hurting in remote parts of the world.”
The nonprofit Christian humanitarian-organization works to send medical teams to care for the sick, volunteers to build homes for orphaned children, develop clean water systems, drill wells and much more. From North Africa to India, the Middle East to Southeast Thailand, they’re in the business of changing lives as they strive to meet the basic needs of indigenous people in crisis.
It’s a huge arena Micah Smith never imagined when he was a young wild cowboy. But nowadays instead of following the rodeo, he follows the heart of God for the poorest of poor.
If you have a story idea for Light Notes, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Lucy Luginbill on Twitter @LucyLuginbill.